mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

A Strange Gourd…

In Birds and Bees, From the Garden, Vegetables on July 26, 2007 at 12:36 pm

fruit

I have another volunteer in my little patch of green – this time it is a strange little gourd. One time I had Malabar spinach with its rose tinted berries and leaves show up in a corner. No amount of uprooting could remove it – then I discovered I could use it in a Bengali paanch-phoran stir fry in a medley of other vegetables (beans, pumpkin, potatoes…) – yummy.

floweR

First I spotted the characteristic yellow flowers that are common to many a gourd/melon. They were small, about a centimeter across, and I wondered what kind it may be. A few days later I spotted a few with bulbous bottoms, the female flowers, and waited in anticipation. They developed into tiny melons that I had never seen before.

But were these edible, I wondered. When in doubt ask Shakuntala. Shakuntala is my young 30-something kitchen help who migrated to the city upon marriage. Originally from Rajasthan, her family sold their farmland and moved to a village near Agra where her father worked odd jobs to make a better living. She tells me farmers are today better off than they were 30 years ago, and it is now possible to make a living off the land. Yet for small farmers in India it is far from well. But I digress…

fruit

She identified the gourd as edible (yipee!), and informed me that it kind of volunteers all over the bajra (pearl millet) and jowar (sorghum) fields. You will find the seeds ‘adulterating’ some of these grains. It is the real earth food (I will stick to the rules and not send a second entry, Meeta :D ) : growing wild, and becoming a protein rich vegetable (look at the amount of those seeds!) for people living in the harsh arid areas of Western India, where it is hard to grow conventional vegetables.

Bitter tasting to start out, the fruit sweetens (faintly sour with a melon-y taste :D ) as it ripens. Right off the vine it a great nibble for rural kids. It may be pickled or cooked conventionally into an everyday- subzi. It is also sun-dried for later use in stir fries, or ground into a powder to flavour chutneys and veggies.

The dove visits everyday to try her luck…it was her lucky day today! Shakuntala says that one plant can bear upto 50 fruit at a time! We’ll see about that – right now I have five.

fruit

Can you name this gourd/melon? I would like to know other names…

I was going to hold the answer back for just a few hours but a dear friend of mine is starting to roll her eyes…so here’s the answer: the people of UP and Rajasthan know it as sane or kachri (kuchri). And, on a whim, just before posting I decided to look it up…it’s an amazing world out there. Kachri: Cucumis pubescens

Kachri is a wild variety of cucumis and is found in Bengal, Punjab, parts of Maharashtra, the North Western Provinces, and the Sind area (now in Pakistan). It is used in its wild form and is seldom cultivated as a crop.

Kachri ki chutney
Kachri ki subzi

Tags: strange melon, Rajasthani, Western UP, kachri, Cucumis pubescens, wild food

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  1. Strange friends you have! Now who doesn’t like a good quiz?!

    I’ve had kachri ki subzi at a Marwari friend’s home. Or at least I think I have! Whatever it was, it was delicious! She had also soaked some dried sticks from Rajasthan and made subzi. That was also amazing!

    Strange melons, strange friends – I have ‘em all!

    And looks like you would have guessed this one too! Dried sticks :lol: those be sangri (a kind of pod from a local tree)?

  2. Interesting…perhaps a little birdie was eating the seeds a few hours before it flew over your yard? :-) Could have been that dove! Have it arrested on suspicion!!! :-)

    That gourd is called “hairy cucumber” or sometimes “cucurbit” in English, as I’ve just read…those dishes made from it, especially those using sun-dried pieces, I find intriguing.

    I have unknown gourd-vines trailing about in different places in the beds too, but I compost every bit of vegetable scrap from the kitchen, so I expect it every spring. I always wonder what I’ll be getting! Life is fascinating eh?

    That, or they came in the compost…

    Life is like a box of chocolates…

  3. yeah, now who doesnt like a quiz… i love to play guessing games… ask bee.. i went crazy with her watermelon rind guessing one….

    I never heard of this veg before hey, looks like a mix of cucumber and watermelon…. what are you planning to make??

    Make…let me see…what can I do with 5 1-inch long melons?! A single serving of pickle maybe!

  4. Oh darn! the game show was over before I showed up!
    If i had showed up on time I would have guessed it as Watermelon. Kachri gourd, first time heard it or seen it. Insides look a lot like cucumber.

    There was no show! Our friend there was rolling her eyes as soon as I posted the pictures on Flickr! :D You can still try to did up its other names…

    It is like a cucumber, just soooo tiny.

  5. thats strange little(???is it small?) gourd i have seen. looks lot like yellow cucumber which is used in currys and subjis.

    About an inch-inch and a half long, very small.

  6. That looks like a cucumber gone fat and horribly small! Shakuntala said one plant grows about 50 but you got only 5! Where have the others gone??

    I haven’t been able to see where the vine is rooted…it might have sprouted in one of the pots and may not be as vigorous as it would have been in the ground, me thinks…and it is still flowering, so there’s hope.

  7. Interesting information! I remember seeing something like this when I was in Mumbai. I believe we call it kartuli, but I could be completely wrong!

    We have another name…thanks!

  8. Oh, they’re that little?! Well…you could always throw them into a mixed-vegetable kutu or sambar I suppose… Do they get any bigger eventually?

    Come to think of it, there’s a wild, cucumbery thingamajig that grows here, but I don’t see it too often.

    Yup, quite tiny even when fully grown…they do turn yellow sometimes.

  9. you want the rest of the kachri ki subzi recipe? the part the tarla dalal site won’t show you without a membership? i have the book. i could type it down for you.

    Bee, be so nice as to e-mail me? In the hope that I will eventually harvest more… :D

  10. It is so different……..

    …like miniature watermelons – till you cut them up!

  11. the melons look so fantastic…cant believe they are that small….i think they’d be great in a salad….

    They do have an interesting melon-y fragrance.

  12. They are called Dosakaya in Telegu. We wait till it turns yellow to use it in curries.I use it in making daals and add it to eggplant chutney for the crunch. You can also add it to mutton curry, gives a very nice flavour.

    I think these are different…dosakaya are giants compared to these. Kachri do not grow more than 3 cm long, and a couple of centimeters across. But they do have a slight tart flavour like dosakaya.

  13. dosakaya? oh well, mallus use them all the time they are called vellarikka. anita, you can make vellarikka pachadi. like this:

    http://dailygirlblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/vellarikka-pachadi-cucumber-raita.html

    it’s yummilicious.

    Only I’ll need lots of them, not just one! :D

  14. I could not identify the green gourd but if it is truly dosakaya, you could also make sambar with it (after it turns yellow of course). In Kannda it is called “Mangaluru Southekai” meaning a variety of cucumber grown mainly in the coastal area of Mangalore. The sambar is made like usual, but with a hint of jaggery. Tastes really good! If you land up harvesting all 50 and need more recipes, I’ll be happy to send it over! :)
    - Roopa

    I don’t think this is that! :-D But if I really do get 50, I’ll put some in sambar. In fact, since I am making sambar tomorrow it might be a good idea to use these five in it before they dry out…

  15. Hi Anita,

    This is the information I found on the web about this vege.

    http://www.humeseeds.com/cukelem.htm

    The image in the website(below)of the plant looks exactly like the one u have posted and it is Cucumis sativus. That’s what they call it.

    http://caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/~stueber/thome/band4/tafel_089.html

    Umm..that looks different – these are very small and oval – really the shape of the new oblong watermelons, but tiny.

  16. Hey Anita, are these the very tiny ones, slightly tangy? We call it Chhibbadd in Punjabi and people used to use it for pickling or just snacking with salt and chillies :).

    I think that may be the Punjabi name! These are just about an inch or so long…And ‘kachri’/’chhibbadd’ is just what i would expect such a wild thing to be called! Do you remember these to be of the same colour, or yellow?

  17. Sangri! That’s it! I should have been able to remember that. It’s Sangria without an ‘a’. :lol: I just spoke to her the other day. I must call her again to find out if she has any of this stuff!

    The kachri probably came in the compost.

    From what I found on the net, it does seem to be something of a delicacy in Rajasthan…your friend should definitely be able to tell us more about them in any case.

  18. Did you pick them before giving them a chance to grow into adult cucumbers? That’s criminal you know!!

    While they are expected to turn yellow these might not…and this is the mature size – because Shakuntala proclaimed them ripe.

  19. That does look strange. And because it is so strange I think I will be glad to take it as another entry. Send it over to me.

    Thanks, Meeta…it’s coming your way. Watch out!

  20. woooooooo
    i thought u clicked some watermelons from top
    cant believe….melony cucumber huh!
    uffff I still have lots to learn
    so pickle coming next?

    They do so look like miniature watermelons!

  21. I thought i had never come across these veggies but then read musical’s comment and realised that my mom often makes a veggie dish with chibhda (thats what we call it) and chana dal.it tastes amazing- however they are yellow in color (probably it ripens to the yellow color as it ages.

  22. I want to see a picture of kachri now…..:( Is that vellarikka? (from bee’s comment) Those grow more than 3 inches long!

  23. We call it dosakaaya,yellow cucumber.we make different dishes and pickles outof it and most blended veggie.it blends well with chicken,shrimp,meat and with dal it tastes heavenly,we ever preserve it by making a pickle.

  24. Anita, the chhibbadds are pretty much what you have :) May you get many more to enjoy some sambar/pickles etc etc. :)

  25. Oh! on an aside, in some dialects on Punjabi, melons are called kachre (plural). there’s a paheli that goes like:

    “Char kachre kacchhe chacha, chaar kachre pakke,
    kacchhe kachre pakke chacha, pakke kachre kacchhe,
    bolo kinne kachre”

    he he, so the name “kachri” might just be appropriate :)

    and i agree with your expectations about their name :-D

  26. I have visited your site 163-times

  27. I could not find this site in the Search Engines index

  28. As I read your post, I had no idea about this strange gourd of yours till I reached the bottom of the post where it says Kachri. Then, it occurred to me that I’ve read the name in Tarla Dalal’s recipes :D Congratulations on the discovery!

    Thanks to Shaku!

  29. Good to see the nice and teasty pic of “KACHRI”..i want make this food salad more sweeter with help of BIOTECHNOLOGY..so if some body want to discuss some thing lets start

    Wrong forum, Dr Sahab. We will be happy to use whatever you develop or whatever you spare ;-) from development…

  30. this is indeed Kachri… I was searching on how to grow these plants… am from Delhi but my Mom’s side is from rajasthan and she would prepare them every season- like a sabji- yummy with bread BTW. Now I am in the US and looking to grow some so I can also make that sabzi here… Anyways, if anyone knows what sort of soil conditions it needs etc, or where to get the seed (in India or here) please let me know.

    The research said its botanical name is “Cucumis melo var. agrestis”…

    Hot and dry would be my guess. Mine was a volunteer…but if someone saved up a kachri for you, there would be plenty of seeds
    .

  31. How big is the fruit? An egg size like? If yes, your species a probably Cucumis melo subsp. agrestis. From your pictures I can suggest this identification to you. Thanks.

  32. [...] We saw these strange crinkly things at the Indian grocery store. The name on the packet rang a bell. Kachri. Isn’t that the designer weed that grows in Anita’s yard? [...]

  33. Cucumis pubescens or Cucumis callosus? Google should help…Just check. I did and the results are interesting.
    Interesting blog. Tried you Adai recipe, I too used to ferment the batter,both are good.

    Now that you have pointed to a source with pics, it is looking a lot like C. callosus! thanks for the pointer, Kirti.

  34. [...] Me This! Manisha, the same one who looked at my strange gourd pictures and rolled her eyes, “Not another quiz?!” has now decided to start her very [...]

  35. And a secret well-known to a large number of non-vegetarians — Fine powder of dried “Kachri” is the best NATURAL meat tenderizer! In fact ground meat for seekh-kababs gives the best results with Kachri powder. Two table spoons of powder per KG of ground meat mixed thoroughly and left for 4-6 hours would give good tender results (this powder is in addition to regular garam masala and chopped green masala). The same is true for tikkas and boti kababs, etc. BTW Kachri powder is available in many Indian/Pakistani stores even in Canada, USA and England!

    • WHERE IN ENGLAND …TO BE SPECIFIC WHERE IN LONDON…. LOOKED EVERYWHERE IN DESI STORES .THEY HAVENT HEARD OF IT.

  36. I am from India and you can find this in filles of india (Esp. Punjab). I use to eat without cooking them. Just inside of it. In india its call Chebar..
    It is very common in punjab (north side of India).

  37. Hi abc,

    If you are looking for Kachri as such, you woun’t get it easily outside the subcontinent. However, for dried Kachri Powder that is used as 100% organic tenderizer, you may ask grocery stores selling Shan, Mehran, National masala packs. BTW, I have not come across any famous brand name for Kachri Powder.

  38. I am a senior professor in plant breeding in venezuela s.a. I have visited hiderabad and other indian cities at least one time and i want to contact several scientists working in pearl millet breeding, mainly in the aridic regions of india. pictures very wellcome, please, thank you, felix

  39. I think i have some of these strange lil plants growing all over my back yard. I live in a small town called Weatherford in Texas. The only difference is that mine are about 3 inches. The leaves are very stiff and feel like a cats tongue. Also when you rub the plant they let off an oil that smells like body odor. Does yours have all the same characteristics? I was wondering since you said they are edible. I have so many i could feed a small country.

  40. [...] Back home, though,  a bit of quality time with Google threw up some startling findings.  First, it would appear that ‘Kachri’ are  green, resembling a stunted watermelon but eaten as a vegetable.  There’s everything you could ever wish to know about ‘Kachri’ here. [...]

  41. I am from New Delhi and the green kachri is used while cooking vegetables. We sometimes get Kachri in Delhi and it is used as a souring agent while cooking vegetables like bottle gourd, ridge gourd and also lady fingers. The yellow kachri is used when making fruit chat – it is slighly sweet and sour in taste. One should always taste the seeds of the kachri before using it in vegetable or fruit chat as they can be very bitter sometimes and can make the whole subji or chaat bitter. The dried kachri powder is used while making daals – 1 teaspoon is added while boiling dal – gives a very nice flavor to the dal. My mother used to make a very nice soup in winters using dry kachri powder, ginger powder and curd – supposed to have a warming effect inside the body during cold winter days.

  42. that is a Gourd of Taste.

  43. Thanks for sharing lovely post on kachri. I am from Rajasthan. I have grown up eating this. Today I was uploading the recipe for kachri in my blog and I was searching for kachri photo and landed to your space. You have a beautiful space here.
    check out the kachri sabji and other Rajasthani delicacy here

    http://manishavijay.blogspot.com/search/label/Rajasthani%20Recipes

  44. oh, oh.. this plant came up in my garden too, however, I was (mis)informed that the fruits are poisonous and bitter. I did taste the raw green fruit, very bitter and hence scrapped the plant.
    maybe, I should have searched more, but now I have a name and recipes too. waiting for it to show again :)
    Chitra

    If it was bitter then it was a good thing you trashed it!
    Kachri is available dried readily!

  45. This looks like unripe queen anne’s melon. I grow it here. It vines and turns orange when it’s ripe, very fragrant when ripe too. http://www.heirloomsolutions.com/Queen_Annes_Pocket_Melon_p/556.htm

    It does look like that, but I don’t recall any fragrance. Perhaps, I didn’t wait till it was mature?

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